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August 11, 1977 - Image 4

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Publication:
Michigan Daily, 1977-08-11

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The Michigan Daily
Edited and managed by Students at the
University af Michigan
Thursday, August 11, 1977
News Phone: 764-0552
'U' ties with South Africa
must stifl be questioned
ON MAY 12, 294 Stanford University students were ar-
rested for protesting that institution's investments in
corporations with financial ties to South Africa. Two days
later, at a Ford Motor Company stockholders' meeting,
representatives of those student protestors forced a vote
on the question of whether Ford should retain its holdings
in South Africa, or pull out completely. The motion lost by
greater'than a five to one margin, and two million of those
votes to stay in South Africa came from the University of
Michigan..
All told, the University has over $40 million invested in
corporations that have financial ties to South Africa. In
May and June, several groups of concerned students ask-
ed the Regents to reconsider the University's financial
support of the racist regime of minority leader John Vor-
ster. Some groups demanded the University immediately
divest itself of those holdings, while others asked the Re-
gents to consider using its votes and influence at stock-
holders' meetings to urge the corporations themselves to
pull out.
THE REGENTS and administration listened to the speak-
ers during those months, but little-action was taken,
Finally, University Vice President for Financial Affairs
James Brinkerhoff met with student representatives, and
a representative of the African National Congress (which
has observer status in the U.N.), and promised there would
be a campus-wide forum in the Fall in which spokesper-
sons both from the corporations, the white minority gov-
ernment in South Africa, the African National Congress
and others would all be invited to present their views to
the campus community, including the Regents and admin-
istration.
However, since that promise was made, the matter has
been all but forgotten by the campus. With Fall rapidly
approaching, thousands of students will be returning to
town with little or no knowledge of this situation, and un-
less we can reach them, the forum may be doomed.
Brinkerhoff has assured us this week the forum will be
a reality this Fall, but that won't be enough to convince
the Regents to stop supporting the racist minority govern-
ment. We have to attend those forums and appear at Re-
gents meetings to let them know our feelings. The Re-
gents have the final power, but without our plodding and
protesting they will act. The oppressed people of South
Africa need our help, so let's not let them down. Let's keep
this issue-alive in the Fall, and convince the University to
change its investment policy.

Kids now taking folks
to their days in courts

By CONNIE BRUCK
A 15-year-old girl in Washington asks a juvenile
court to declare her "incorrigible" and place her
in a foster home of her choice. She and her par-
ents'have been feuding-over whom she dates,
whether or not she may smoke-and she considers
these differences irreconcilable.
The judge, apparently concerned that she might
otherwise run sway from home, grants her re-
quest. His decision, appealed by the parents, is
upheld by the State Supreme Court.
In Massachusetts, a number of pregnant teen-
agers join as unnamed plaintiffs in a suit attack-
ing the constitutionality of a state statute, which
requires a minor desiring an abortion to gain the
consent of both parents or a court order. The
case will be heard by the U.S. Supreme-Court in
the fall.
AND IN CALIFORNIA-in a case that will soon
come before the state Sppreme Court-a 14-year-
old youth challenges the law which allows a par-
ent to commit a child to a mental hospital without
any hearing.
The inevitable contest has begun. Across the
country, youth advocates are declaring that chil-
dren, too, have their inalienable rights, which
cannot be infringed upon-whether by state,
school system, or even their own parents. This
last claim, however, raises the most difficult and
unique issue thus far in children's rights, and un-
derscores how thin movement differs significant-
ly from earlier liberation movements.
The key question, of course, is what constitutes
an abuse of parental authority.
Parents have their rights, too, and their prero-
gative to raise their children as they see fit has
always been protected, the family's autonomy
zealously, guarded against intrusion by the state.
Should parents and kids start drawing up cam.-
tracts to regulate family quarrels? Some youth
advocates have even suggested the next frontier
for children's litigation might well be tonsillec-
tomies, special schools, even summer camps..
This is the fractious future some lawyers and
judges have begun to fear and fantasize about-
a state of insurrection in which' each and every
parental mandate would be subject to challenge.
"People who are against children's rights al-
ways invoke this outrageous, absolutely incorri-
gible spoiled brat who just says to hell with you
whenever his parents ask him to do anything-
and they're afraid that this sort of individual is
now going to have power," says Peter Bull, at-
torney at Legal Services for Children in San Fran-
cisco. "But the fact is that it's very unusual for
a child to want to confront a parent-children m-

ture gradually, and until a certain point, they
want to be dependent."
The most-active area of children's legal repre-
sentation is custody battles-where the family
unit is already breaking up, and the judicial me-
chanism is in gear. Echoing a growing trend
across the country in the last year or so, the Cali-
fornia legislature in January gave courts the dis-
cretionary power to appoint attorneys for children
in custody battles.
Consider, for example, the case of Alice, who
was thirteen when her parents decided to divorce,
about two years ago.
Alice's natural mother had died when she was
four, and her father remarried two years later;
but his new wife never bothered to go through
formal adoption proceedings.
ALICE DESPERATELY wanted to go live with
the woman who had been mother to her for al-
most as long as she could remember; but the
court ruled that as neither natural nor adoptive
mother, she had no legal standing in the case,
and awarded custody to the natural father.
Alice confided her troubles to her teacher, who
in turn told the story to a lawyer friend, Liz Cole,
then practicing in San Jose, Calif.
"It really made me mad," Cole recalled, "so
I mouthed off about how the kids should have
some rights-it just wasn't fair. I said that while
I could see how the mother had no standing, I
thought the child ought to. Next thing I know, I
get a call from Alice-wanting to hire me as her
lawyer."
TODAY, ALICE is proud of having fought for
her right to be heard, but she stresses that her
victory was not a simple one. It was, after all, not
some oppressive state law or school regimen that
she prevailed over, but her father. Such triumphs
are tempered.
"Until now," Alice declares, "you just took what
you got if you were a kid-it's been like that for-
ever, I guess. But it seems only commop sense
that kids should have as many rights, and be re-
presented if they're in a bad situation. This isn't
a question of kids marching and organizing-they
can't, anyway-it's just a matter of people having
to think differently: like, that kids are people
too."
To attorney Gabe Kaimowitz -of Michigan Legal
Services in Detroit, progress in children's rights
seems slow indeed. "The U.S. Supreme Court has
said in a number of decisions that the Fourteenth
Amendment is "not for adults alone'-but that
doesn't mean that the Constitution is for cil-
dren," Kairnowits complains. "It means that they
will decide inch by Inch, case by case, circum-
stance by circumstance, whether this child is A
person."

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